Two recent pieces of news surely must lead to a proper review of public policy, at least as far as inheritance taxes and minimum or so called national living wage are concerned. They are not connected and they are only part of a much bigger picture, but they do display Britain at its most unequal. The death of Gerald Cavendish is a sad day for his family. I met him once in the late 1980’s when he came to a business I worked for in Cheshire to open our new offices, he seemed to be a nice person from what I recall. According to this news report not only did he inherit an estate without any death taxes but he will pass his estate on on the same basis. This means that his four children will be able to continue to live to the same standards they have got used to as the children of the fourth richest person in the UK. Let us hope that like their father they will continue to work hard on behalf of the communities in which they operate. However this sort of privilege is very different to anything that is featured in this article which is a focus on the a recent piece of analysis on the poorest in our society and how they are getting poorer in relative terms. The article is a focus on how the number of households in the UK falling below the Minimum Income Standard continues to rise and shows how the lowest wages are not allowing earners to keep pace with other costs in society. It includes a reference to the Minimum Income Standard or MIS, something that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation helps to measure each year. It is based on the sort of things that most people believe are a necessary part of everyday life. This is in effect a national living wage in real terms, which according to the JRF “In 2015, single people need to earn at least £17,100 a year before tax to achieve MIS. Couples with two children need to earn at least £20,000 each.”
I know from my own family that some people are very scared of death taxes, the people who I am thinking will never impose a single penny of such taxes on the next generation of their families. However if they were a lot richer they might do so and yet they would certainly not be able to enter into the sort of arrangements that will ensure that HMRC will not see anything from the Duke of Westminster’s estate. It seems very unfair that we have a tax which is not paid by those with the largest estates. By the same token the same people in my family when they were working would have earned incomes that would have come well under the MIS. We need a society that protects the most vulnerable and expects the wealthiest to pay their way. At present this seems not to be the case!